Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Revisit New Zealand with writing award

New Zealand for me was in Nov. 2011 but stories written from that epic trip have just earned me a big Mark Twain award - First Place Series in the Midwest Travel Writers Association’s 2012 writing awards. That was last week in Louisville, where the group’s spring meeting gave me opportunities to get the lowdown on bourbon, food, shopping and a zipline inside a cave.

It was a strange switch to look back at my Kiwi Kronicles series while immersed in all things Kentucky. Maybe that’s why I sometimes feel I’m not quite all there, or here, for that matter. .
 I’m summarizing the work here to give you easy access to all the stories, which include some pretty neat you-are-there videos for those viewing them online. Just click on the colored text above to go there directly from here.

Those NZ stories, published early last year, included a look at the native Maori culture, immersion in the scenes where Hobbit films were done, a visit by train to an upscale sheep station, an after dark kayak paddle into a canyon illuminated by glow worms, a soak in hot springs and a trek into a primitive forest. My blogs included a wearable art fashion show in Wellington, a sheep shearing experience and the baa code on merino wool long johns I purchased, and a visit to an 1830s era mission, one of the country’s earliest settlements by Europeans.

 A really amazing interactive map, devised by my colleague Cheryl Sadler, was also a part of the series and I owe her a giant Thank You for her efforts with it. But it’s so cutting edge there was no contest category for entering it, the same scenario for my blogs and videos.
 And I hope you enjoy reading about New Zealand as much as I enjoyed writing about it.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Chautauqua favorites of the Mitrovich family.

Jean and Paul Mitrovich show off a book he wrote. They both share a fondness for the Jamestown, New York area. 

The Jamestown area in western New York has long been a favorite weekend getaway for Jean and Paul Mitrovich. He’s the retired Lake County Common Pleas Court judge.
The Chautauqua Institution, which opens for its nine-week summer schedule next month,  will be the subject of a story in the June 9 Travel section.
Today Jean Mitrovich shares family favorites in the area.

"My family and I have been enjoying Chautauqua and the Jamestown, New York area for 12 years and have discovered countless opportunities to create lasting memories.
We begin  our “Chautauqua Experience” by touring the Chautauqua Institution on Sunday where free admittance and parking is granted until 1 p.m.  Once we depart the Institution, we drive ten minutes to Bemus Point. where free afternoon concerts are presented on a floating dock next to the Italian Fisherman Restaurant.  Chairs can be purchased at lakeside, but you can also bring your own. Find a concert schedule at  Tributes to Whitney Houston, Bruce Springsteen, the Beach Boys, Bee Gees and Rod Stewart are included this year. The floating dock also showcases the Chautauqua Lake Idol competition on Mondays and movies on Tuesday evenings. A new boat museum  next to the Italian Fisherman is filled with many interesting boats and nautical information for the area.
New at Bemus this summer is a water ski team from Medina to which our grandsons are looking forward to seeing.
Because we can sit outside and watch the boats on beautiful Chautauqua Lake, the Casino Restaurant in Bemus is always a stop for lunch or dinner. Other restaurant favorites include Ye Hare & Hounds, Italian Fisherman (if you eat there during the concert, get a  table on their patio overlooking the floating dock)  and See-Zurh House. The best ice cream is at the walk- up ice cream store on Main Street minutes away from the concerts.
Our family enjoys walking to the historic Lenhart Hotel to sit on their Adirondack chairs while enjoying our ice cream cones. The Bemus Bay Inn on Main Street is a good breakfast place which is known for the largest cinnamon buns in New York state. Bemus also has a Brew Fest with Sean Patrick McGraw and a fireworks show this summer. Flares are placed all around the lake before the fireworks display.
Our grandsons enjoy Midway Park in summer. Geared for younger children, it’s the oldest amusement park in New York State.
Several restaurants close to Bemus Point include Webbs Captains Table and the Watermark  both in Mayville. Request outdoor seating at the Watermark to enjoy a Chautauqua Lake view.  The House on the Lake offers breakfast and lunch.
Catch Mayville’s  Celtic Festival Aug. 24. In winter, Mayville hosts an Ice Festival President’s Day weekend with an  ice castle built from ice blocks from Chautauqua Lake.,   A highlight from a past Ice Festival was walking halfway across the frozen lake to observe ice hockey and ice fishermen.
 I love Jamestown  for its  Lucille Ball Festival, set for  Aug. 1-4 this year.  Last year brought more than  900 Lucille Ball lookalikes to the festival  along with Lucy’s daughter.  The Fenton History Center in Jamestown presents their interesting lives.
The Roger Tory ornithology Museum is near Jamestown and is a special treat.  Last summer the museum presented a free program of paintings by Arthur Singer, who is well known for his bird drawings on stamps.  The presenter was Singer’s son, who drew many of the backgrounds in his father’s paintings.  As a former teacher, I was impressed with the wealth of information in this museum.
The Robert H. Jackson Museum is another interesting place to visit.  Judge Jackson, born near Jamestown,was a U.S. Supreme Court Justice  and  the U.S. Chief Prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials.  The museum hosts a free seminar on the front porch of Chautauqua Institution’s historic Athenaeum Hotel at the end of the season.  Last summer’s seminar discussed “Blood Diamonds” and Sierra Leone with international prosecutors.  All of us were given the opportunity to meet an elderly man who was a prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials.  Judge Jackson was involved in the Brown vs. Board of Education decision.  My husband, Judge Paul H.  Mitrovich, wrote a book about civil rights and the Brown vs. Board of Education and Judge Jackson’s information is included in the chapters.  Paul donated a photo to the Jackson Museum which he secured from the Library of Congress.  It is a photo of Judge Jackson with all of the members of the Supreme Court.  The museum hadn’t had  a copy of this photo in the past.
 The visitors center  on Rt.  86 has the best view of Lake Chautauqua with all the information you need  for your “Chautauqua Experience.” It also has a monthly edition, “What’s Happening in Northwestern New York” —a must for area visitors. Information can also be found for the Gerry Rodeo, July 31 to Aug. 3, and an antique equipment show set for in Stockton Aug. 16- 18.  My family has enjoyed both of these events and look forward to them each year.
Salamanca Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel is 40 miles from Jamestown.
Chautauqua has given my family many wonderful and fun memories to share together. Fond memories include the grandkids taking sailing lessons with Grandpa at the marina in Chautauqua Institution and fishing for the biggest fish.   Stopping at Presque Isle Park for a picnic on Lake Erie on our way home is always relaxing and fun.
 The grand finale for grandchildren is a stop at Splash Lagoon in Erie, Pa. The indoor water park offers a late afternoon discount on Sundays.
 A trip to Chautauqua would have to include  a boat ride on either the historic Chautauqua Belle, docked in Mayville, or the Summerwind, docked in Celeron.

Jean Mitrovich

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Monday, May 13, 2013

May's travel section: link to stories here

May is a month to plan your summer getaways, amid the excitement of graduations, weddings and other celebrations. So this month's travel section gives you  several Midwest options to consider for weekend or longer escapes from Northeast Ohio. Click on the highlighted words below to go to each of the stories.

Door County, Wisconsin has been called the Cape Cod of the Midwest and the similarities are clear to anyone who has been to both peninsulas. The closer one juts into Lake Michigan and its watery pleasures are fresh water with many small towns, cheese makers, cherry producers and diversions that run toward food - including the storied fish boil  organized so almost everyone who visits has a chance to partake.

Even closer to home is Ann Arbor, just a little more than two hours drive away. It's already well known among those who attend it's annual art festival but our story showcases its sustainability scene - a concept that is going mainstream in his town and is heavily reflected in its food scene. If you are an Ohio State fan don't let your Michigan prejudices keep you from exploring this gem of a town.

For many Northeast Ohioans it wouldn't be summer without the Shaw Festival and Chautauqua Institution, so we've given you an early heads-up  about performances and lectures sure to sell out this summer. Next month we'll visit both places - both really good driving distance destinations for those of us who live around here -  to give you the skinny on where to stay, eat and explore. We'll also be presenting blogs by two local women who have long visited both areas to give you their takes on what's great in both Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Jamestown, N. Y areas. This story also details a few other very interesting festivals around which you may wish to frame part of your summer.

Brunch at Brennan's is  an understandable  highlight for many visitors to New Orleans. That meal is recounted along with its extraordinary Bananas Foster, a dish that was invented there. The writer, once affiliated with the Ritz Carlton, asks the kinds of questions she was always asked as a server in order to learn about some of the other dishes. What she discovered may surprise you.

Who knew that Freiburg in southwest Germany was one of the country's sunniest locales. But the bachle, tiny little canals built  hundred of years ago to bring water from the mountains to the city, keep visitors' eye downcast as they seek to avoid stepping into them.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Joyful Ohio summer fun

I most enjoy watching summer arrive in Northeast Ohio, returning color and form to gray and sparse winter landscapes. The venues may change for me from year to year because it’s the sense of discovery I want to nurture. Seeing tiny white wildflowers push up through leaf mold, digging for ramps to prepare with dinner from a woodland that days ago was wall-to-wall Virginia bluebells, and watching my backyard fern bed achieve shoulder-high stature all are experiences that can’t be ranked. It matters not where I paddle out to the Lake Erie breakwall, wade in the chilled surf line, or raise a toast to the sunset. It’s all as good as feeling the sun on bare shoulders, enjoying a patio dinner with friends as fireflies flicker into evening, or stretching slumber away in the cool dawn breeze from an open window. I may travel beyond the distant horizons, but I’m delighted, committed and overjoyed to be a native Northeast Ohioan.

I'm leaving for Louisville, Ky. in a few days to develop stories about the Bourbon Trail and ziplining in a cave for the News-Herald's. travel section. But this week's work  on an upcoming section about close-to-home "staycations" has me almost wanting to stick around here. My part of the project was to tell folks about Geneva-on-the-Lake, where the season now begins on Mothers Day not Memorial Day, and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. among others. It's been a great reintroduction to places that make life so purely delightful in this part of the world. 

The thoughts above are part of the assignment. We've all been asked to write about our favorite summertime things to do close to home. My problem is I just can't choose. I love this time of year... all of it.

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